In the days of Red Bull dominance, there were voices saying that something was very wrong with F1. The distribution of forces was decided mainly by aerodynamics. But Formula 1 is motorsport, so the engine should play a bigger role. In 2014, some got what they wanted, but they weren’t thrilled. Mercedes appeared at the head. Customers also benefited from its powerful power unit. Williams finished third, McLaren fifth and Force India sixth.
In the following years, the differences between the manufacturers began to decrease – except for Honda, whose suffering is probably not worth mentioning.
Somewhere since 2017, the distribution of forces was again decided mainly by aerodynamics, because the differences between the propulsion units were relatively small.
From 2018, however, the Maranella power unit began to take the lead, and as we know today, at least for part of last season, it was not always in full compliance with the rules.
Leaving aside Ferrari’s controversial period, according to Remi Taffin, there were differences between manufacturers of up to 20 horsepower.
During the winter, however, there was a change and to some extent a return to the first year of the hybrid era. Mercedes again has the best powertrain, and this can again be seen in customers – especially Williams. The drive unit provides an advantage mainly in one lap, so we get the Williams into the second part of the qualification, but in the race their performance is weaker, although according to the drivers, this is also due to the car’s excessive sensitivity when driving in traffic.
Unless the situation changes dramatically, McLaren has something to look forward to next year, although the philosophical question of recent years is once again opening up to us. Can a team with a “foreign” engine win the championship? Unfortunately for McLaren, the situation will not change in the coming years. It is practically impossible for a new manufacturer to enter F1 at a time when the current rules will apply. And they will probably be valid until the end of 2025.
Ferrari failed after the introduction of technical guidelines, a second fuel flow sensor and a collusion.
According to Auto Motor und Sport, as a result of these changes, Ferrari tried to overhaul the internal combustion engine over the winter, but had very little time to do so and it took its toll.
But the current form of red monoposts is not only due to the propulsion unit. The Ferrari chassis is probably not the best either, and above all it was built for a powerful engine that the Scuderia does not have now.
How much does anyone lose?
It is relatively difficult to estimate the distribution of forces after three races. According to Auto Motor und Sport, however, the rough estimate is that Mercedes has 25 hp more than Renault, 30 hp more than Honda and 50 hp more than Ferrari. Other plants and other data will refine these estimates.
The differences in power units are also shown by the times and their comparison with last year.
The three Mercedes teams at the Red Bull Ring were on average 0.62 seconds faster than the previous year. In Budapest it was 1.75 seconds.
For Renault and Honda, progress is more modest. Both Renault teams were on average 0.48 seconds faster in Austria and 0.85 seconds faster in Hungary.
For Honda teams, it was 0.18 seconds on the Red Bull Ring and 0.45 seconds on the Hungaroring.
Ferrari, Haas and Alfa Romeo were on average slower than in 2019. 0.87 seconds in Spielberg and 0.1 seconds in Budapest.